The Institute for Family Health hosts online conversation with Members of Congress
Dr. Neil Calman, co-founder, president and CEO of the Institute for Family Health, speaks with Rep. Ritchie Torres (upper-right) and Rep. Adriano Espaillat (lower-left) in an online conversation called “Building on the FQHC Model: Delivering Equitable and High Quality Care” that was hosted by the Institute for Family Health.
New York, NY (November 22, 2021) – Institute for Family Health leaders, providers, staff, community partners and elected officials gathered online for a conversation called “Building on the FQHC Model: Delivering Equitable and High Quality Care,” which featured presentations from Members of Congress and Institute for Family Health leaders. The presentations covered such topics as community health, addressing the social determinants of health, the integration of telehealth, improving care for rural populations, and training future providers, nurses and staff.
Dr. Neil Calman, co-founder, president and CEO of the Institute for Family Health, and other speakers remarked on the important role that community health centers have played for many decades, including the special role they played throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. They also discussed the ways that the pandemic has highlighted socioeconomic and health inequities.
According to Dr. Calman, who led the dialogue, the aim of the meeting was “to facilitate a dialogue between our staff and leadership, and the congressional representatives who represent the communities we serve and who support the work that we do through their legislative efforts.”
A variety of Institute leaders and staff spoke about the issues raised by the Members of Congress, including the importance of expanding the healthcare workforce, focusing on the need for nurses, primary care providers and behavioral health providers committed to working in medically underserved communities. They also addressed the importance of building the infrastructure necessary to support the expansion of telehealth in rural communities and the need for parity in reimbursement between in-person, tele-video and telephone only patient encounters.
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez acknowledged the fact that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the disparities in healthcare access have been front and center, stating, “This is a pivotal moment and calls for our country to invest in healthcare.”
Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney also noted the role that community health centers play in providing safety-net healthcare. “Community health centers are a vital part of New York City’s health infrastructure…and are the best vehicles through which the underserved are reached.”
Rep. Ritchie Torres said “Early on during the experience of COVID-19, there was a myth that COVID is the great equalizer, and even though it affects all of us, it affects us unevenly and is disproportionately more destructive on places like the South Bronx, which have less access to fresh food and less access to amenities in general.”
Rep. Adriano Espaillat highlighted the need to expand behavioral health care and how community health centers can offer greater access. “COVID-19 has exacerbated America’s mental health and substance abuse crises in an unimaginable way. It has exposed an unmet need for behavioral health treatment that has existed long before the pandemic.”
Rep. Antonio Delgado also commented on the impact of telehealth on expanding access to healthcare for rural communities, and the need to expand access to Broadband. “I think we have got to make sure in the 21st century that individuals in our rural communities—our seniors in particular, but also those who utilize telehealth for mental health services—is something that we have to be able to step up and make sure that everybody can access.”
For a recording of the full event, click here.
The Institute for Family Health (www.institute.org) is a federally qualified health center network that operates 30 practices in New York State serving roughly 100,000 patients annually. Services are available to people of all ages, regardless of ability to pay. The Institute also operates three residency-training programs for family physicians and a family nurse practitioner residency. It also runs seven school based health centers and six sites that care for people who are homeless, as well as a number of health promotion programs, including Bronx Health REACH.